The Flyers show resiliency in coming back to beat the Canucks
The West Coast trip continues for the Flyers (19-16-4) with a stop in Calgary for a New Year’s Eve matchup with the Flames (14-19-6).
Puck drop is set for 9 p.m. (CSN).
Here are five things you need to know:
1. G’s Got This
How good has the Flyers’ captain been since scoring his first goal Nov. 9 against Edmonton?
In 23 games since, Claude Giroux has recorded at least a point in all but five contests.
He extended his career-high point streak to nine games in the Flyers’ 4-3-shootout win in Vancouver Monday night with a goal and an assist.
The 25-year-old has had multi-point games in three straight and six of the nine games during his streak. Giroux has 19 points in 13 December games, and 16 power-play points in the final month of 2013 -- seven more than he had the first two months of the season.
Against the Flames in his career, Giroux has a goal and two assists in four games played. He, along with linemate Jakub Voracek -- who had his nine-game point streak snapped Monday -- helped the Flyers to a 5-4 shootout win over the Flames the last time these teams met.
A win tonight over the Flames would give the Flyers their fifth straight win in Calgary.
2. Sharpen the Razor
Ray Emery is expected to start between the pipes for the orange and black.
In his last two starts, Emery has given up 11 goals with a .761 save percentage -- 35 saves on 46 shots faced -- and he’s lost his last four starts. On the season, the 31-year-old fiery backup is 3-7-0 with a 3.23 goals against average and an .885 save percentage.
If you’re looking for some glimmer of hope for the struggling netminder, he’s dominated the Flames in his career. Emery is 6-2-1 with a 1.43 GAA, a .957 save percentage and two shutouts. Last year with Chicago, Emery was 2-0-0 with a 0.96 GAA and a shutout vs. Calgary.
When signed in the offseason to a one-year deal, it was thought that Emery would compete for the No. 1 job with Steve Mason, and many presumed him to be the favorite. But that hasn’t been the case, and with Mason’s stellar play, Emery’s not playing much.
Mason has started 10 of the Flyers’ 13 games in December. He’s coming off back-to-back starts, and a game in which he faced 44 shots and stole two points. He deserves some champagne and a night off for New Year’s Eve.
If Emery wants a more even rotation, he’ll have to have his strongest outing of the season tonight. Right now, head coach Craig Berube has no motivation to employ a 50/50 goalie tandem when one goaltender has been extremely effective and the other has not.
3. Rookie watch
This is a Flames team with an uncertain future.
Calgary fired its general manager, Jay Feaster, and handed the temporary duties to assistant GM John Weisbrod earlier in the year. Last season, it traded Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester, signaling a rebuild (still odd to see Iginla in anything but a Flames sweater).
But one player who is certain to be a part of the future is 19-year-old Sean Monahan.
Selected with the sixth overall pick in June, Monahan’s 10 goals are trailing only San Jose’s Tomas Hertl’s 15 among rookies, and Monahan missed seven games this year with a broken foot.
The 6-foot-2 rookie will have a bright future in the league that will include many goals, but he’s struggling in December. He’s in the midst of a six-game pointless streak, and has one goal in eight games in the month.
Can’t underestimate the youngster, because he has the capability to score and burn you with his speed, which could cause problems for a Flyers defense that’s slow-footed.
4. Flame’s out in net
While the Flyers come into tonight’s contest with two straight wins, the Flames are struggling of late, which should be expected from a mediocre team in a rebuild stage.
Calgary has lost six of its last seven games and two in a row. The Flames lost 2-0 to both Vancouver and Edmonton, with both games coming the night before the Flyers beat those teams in a shootout.
The first year in the post-Miikka Kiprusoff era hasn’t been an easy transition. Both netminders, Kari Ramo and Reto Berra, are inexperienced and have struggled. Veteran Joey MacDonald started the season with Ramo, but he was demoted to the AHL.
Ramo, 27, is 6-6-3 with a 2.79 GAA and a .904 save percentage. Berra, 26, has started the last three games and is 5-10-2 in his first year with a 2.91 GAA and .905 save percentage.
The Flames' goaltending is in the bottom-five of the NHL. Their 3.08 goals-per-game are fifth most in the league, and their .897 save percentage is 27th in the league. Only the Panthers, Oilers and Islanders have received worse goaltending.
5. This and that
• Braydon Coburn is from Calgary, so he’ll spend NYE playing against his hometown team.
• The Flames have been shut out in two straight games. They’ve never been blanked three consecutive times.
• Calgary’s 334 blocked shots are third-most in the NHL -- behind Montreal (420) and Toronto (373).
• Jiri Hudler leads the Flames with 33 points, while Mike Cammalleri leads the team with 12 goals.
• At 19-16-4, the Flyers are over .500 in the hockey world. In the technical world where overtime losses are just losses and no points are awarded, a win tonight would make the Flyers 20-20 on the season.